Sheriff Speaks Out – Says “Open Carry” Bad Idea for Florida

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A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel:

Sheriff Scott Israel

Sheriff Scott Israel

With more than 350 mass shootings in the United States in 2015, gun violence weighs heavily in everyone’s thoughts.  Having more guns brandished openly on our streets is not the answer, yet that is exactly what will happen if a very dangerous bill passes in Tallahassee this year.

The “open carry” bill would further weaken Florida’s already permissive gun laws by allowing concealed weapon permit holders to carry their guns openly and visibly virtually anywhere.  This “Wild West” open carry proposal would make Florida a more dangerous and menacing place, not a safer place.  That is why the Florida Sheriffs’ Association voted overwhelmingly to oppose this reckless proposal.

The U.S. Supreme Court has solidly recognized second amendment constitutional rights; but, as the Court has repeatedly made clear, these second amendment rights are not absolute.  Reasonable restrictions are not only constitutionally allowed but are essential to protect public safety.

Our laws already allow gun purchase rights and gun possession rights without the need of a permit in our homes, vehicles and the great outdoors.  Public carrying of a gun is also allowed by existing law, but requires a permit based upon a background check and training.  A person with the permit may legally carry a gun in public in a concealed manner.  Defeating the open carry proposal would do nothing to curtail any existing gun rights in Florida.

Even those openly carrying a firearm can end up less safe than before. Carrying a firearm openly can make you a target of hardened criminals who will try to steal your gun and possibly use it on you or even follow you home and break in to steal it when you’re not there. Those criminals might be deterred from trying to steal a trained law enforcement officer’s gun, but many will not hesitate to try to take one from a civilian.

Respected studies, including one from Yale University, found that right-to-carry laws have little or no effect on reducing crime. In fact, the studies found that aggravated assaults increased.

Black Friday 2015 gun purchases sadly set a new record in our state, with almost 15,000 people buying guns. This unsettling number is up nearly 2,000 from 2013. Gun control isn’t about restricting freedom or taking firearms legally obtained by law-abiding citizens. Instead, it is about common sense laws that help identify people with a history of violence or mental illness or who are on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist. 

I hope our elected officials in Tallahassee listen to the concern of Florida’s sheriffs – Democrats and Republicans alike – because we understand public safety better than gun industry lobbyists.  I plan to testify in Tallahassee against this bill as well as against the “College Carry” bill to allow guns on school grounds.  I invite you to join me in letting your legislators know your opinion.

Sheriff Scott Israel

Certain Broward cities like Coral Springs maintain their own police departments, however, BSO does provide communications and dispatch services to the following cities: Central Broward, Cooper City, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood Int’l Airport, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Lauderdale Lakes, North Lauderdale. Oakland Park, Parkland, Pembroke Park, West Park, Pompano Beach, Port Everglades, Tamarac, Weston and unincorporated West Broward.

  • SwingStateVoter

    Great to see that our sheriff views law abiding citizens purchasing guns as “sad” and “unsettling”. If his logic holds true, let’s enact strict fitness standards for current BSO deputies! Individuals who have attacked on-duty, uniformed officers have, when interviewed, overwhelmingly stated that they made a judgement call on whether they could overpower the officer based on appearance, attentiveness, attitude, etc. Therefore, I posit that a hardened criminal would pose more of a threat to an overweight or inattentive deputy than a fit, alert citizen.

    Mind you, I’m not saying I support open carry–I see concealed carry as a much larger societal crime deterrent than open carry, and if done right, tactically superior. I just don’t think Israel’s logic holds water. Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!

    • John Doe Sr

      If I understand the proposed law change correctly, you are still able to conceal carry. That is my preference also. We have some of the finest officers out there protecting us but I’ve seen a number of LEO’s that struggle to get in and out of their vehicles. Quite entertaining at times. Aren’t there fitness requirements ?

    • John Doe Sr

      If I understand the proposed law change correctly, you are still able to conceal carry. That is my preference also. We have some of the finest officers out there protecting us but I’ve seen a number of LEO’s that struggle to get in and out of their vehicles. Quite entertaining at times. Aren’t there fitness requirements ?

  • Puty

    Sheriff, I don’t like things like “further weaken Florida’s already permissive gun laws”….the State and Feds don’t ‘give’ us those rights, the Constitution does and for you or anyone to ‘permit’ it is BS!! Actually our rights have been taken away by big government in not allowing it presently!! There are plenty of Sheriffs and law enforcement out there in FL and the US that don’t agree with you.

    Tell us what your average 911 response time is, as we have the right to protect ourselves and our families!!

  • Puty

    Sheriff, I don’t like things like “further weaken Florida’s already permissive gun laws”….the State and Feds don’t ‘give’ us those rights, the Constitution does and for you or anyone to ‘permit’ it is BS!! Actually our rights have been taken away by big government in not allowing it presently!! There are plenty of Sheriffs and law enforcement out there in FL and the US that don’t agree with you.

    Tell us what your average 911 response time is, as we have the right to protect ourselves and our families!!

  • DP

    Open carry & concealed carry is a CHOICE. Open carry is a first level deterrent where concealed carry is a final option. No choice is the perfect one size fits all, which should be left up to the law abiding citizen to decide which carry method suits him/her best.
    Maybe this sheriff & his deputies should practice what he preaches and lead by example by having himself & his deputies no longer carrying openly.

  • DP

    Once you are attacked you are not on your own terms.  Can a successful defense be made then?  It is possible, but why appear to be defenseless and a soft target in the first place?  People who want that “element of surprise” always assume that they will be a bystander instead of the target victim.  Your element of surprise doesn’t work when you are the one being attacked for giving the impression that you are an easy target.

  • DP

    “Open carry sets you up as the first target to be eliminated by bad guys.”
    No matter how many times I hear or read this, I am still amazed that people continue to spout this nonsense despite any evidence that it has ever happened. Again, the argument for concealed carry typically hinges on the assumption that the carrier will be a bystander and not the intended target, thus relying on the element of surprise rather than preparing for being surprised yourself.
    Could it ever happen? Could you conceivably be taken out as the first threat in a robbery?  Yes, anything is possible. But the fact is that criminals typically have tunnel vision and are focused on the object of their attack. Criminals are not skilled military tacticians.  They are looking at the clerk behind the counter to make sure that he doesn’t pull a gun, not at the shopper getting ice cream from the frozen dairy counter. There have been instances where criminals have held up convenience stores with uniformed police in close proximity because they are focused on the cash register and getting in and out as quickly as possible. The probability of you being the target when you are alone is exponentially higher than if a criminal is walking through a convenience store shooting all the armed shoppers first before he robs the store. The myth that if you open carry a bad guy is going to shoot you first is just that, a myth.

  • DP

    The deterrent value of open carry
    Carrying a concealed firearm suggests to a criminal that you are unarmed. Every study says that criminals will avoid an armed person or home when selecting a victim. I do not understand the advantage of appearing to be unarmed. As Ed Levine, founder of Virginia Open Carry, has stated, the probability of me being a victim of a violent crime is completely unchanged by the fact that I have a gun hidden beneath my shirt. My goal is not to be a victim in the first place.
    I don’t want to have to shoot someone.  Few people will attack an open carrier. If you feel better concealing, that’s fine. If I can, I prefer to stop the threat before it turns into a physical reality. If you think that it’s better to stop a threat using your surprise tactics once you’re on your back getting your head smashed in, then that’s your decision.
    Concealing your firearm is like having a “No Guns” sign on a business when in reality all the employees are armed. It might be robbed, but you can then surprise the robber with your guns which may lead to a shoot-out.  Or, you could put up an “Armed Personnel on the Premises” sign. That would deter most criminals.  Why wait until the threat is physical and poses a danger to you before you act?

  • Timbo1

    Another moron of a sheriff in Florida, voters in that county should show him that he is not fit for sheriff in the next election. He’s just mad that it has been shown that concealed carry permit holders are 6 times more likely to obey the law more than police officers.

  • 1BigNasty

    The less “gun free zones,” the safer the public will be.
    Lets get these bills passed. NOW.

  • Figures its one of the liberal sherrifs in the state.

    Not even sure how its legal to be a liberal in the deep south, I thought that was outlawed in the 60’s